Recently completed building projects offer refreshing and unexpected design solutions to serve patrons.
The Vestavia Hills Library in the Forest opened in 2010 as Alabama’s first LEED Gold–certified library. The library takes its forest namesake very seriously: fewer than 25 percent of the trees on the site were disturbed in the building’s construction, and no tree more than 40 feet from the building was cut down. Of those that were removed, more than 80 percent were reincorporated into the library itself. The ceilings are made of pine; the entry hall is poplar; the service desks, fireplace exterior cladding, and doors to the community room are made of oak.
In hot climates, air conditioning is a necessity to keep libraries livable for patrons and staff, especially during the summer. Climate warming is only exacerbating that situation. Unfortunately, air conditioning in turn accelerates climate warming. Now, innovative alternative cooling systems are looking to reduce that environmental impact, and the Alachua County Library District (ACLD), Gainesville, FL, is leading by example.
Iconic. That word comes up again and again in descriptions of the soaring new San Diego Central Library. A lattice dome tops the warm wood and concrete nine-story structure, a striking presence in the city’s skyline. It is a fitting tribute to the 30 years of effort and almost unprecedented philanthropy from community members that went into creating the landscape-changing new library.
Iowa’s Cedar Rapids Public Library faced disaster in 2008: a “500-year flood” that ruined homes, businesses, and the main, downtown branch of the public library. The library was filled with eight feet of water, which damaged the building and materials beyond repair. A group with a vision saw the silver lining and seized the opportunity to plan for a new library based on three main ideas.
When the City of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, had an opportunity to rebuild the Jasper Place Branch of the Edmonton Public Library, (EPL) it aspired to create an open and memorable presence that considered the question: “What is a library that has no books?” In response to this provocative inquiry, the new branch provides the established suburban neighborhood with a new social heart. While the resulting library does not literally lack a print collection, compared to the library it replaces, it is twice as big yet holds fewer titles than the old building. Architectural features, such as extra wide stairs, pull double duty in this new building—serving both functional and social needs by offering space for patrons to sit.